Things That Matter

The Internet Has Come Together To Fund The Funeral Of Leilah Hernandez — An Odessa Shooting Victim Who Had Just Celebrated Her Quince

Our Texas familia has had a difficult and heartbreaking August. At the beginning of the month, a domestic terrorist attacked an El Paso Wal-Mart, targeting the city’s Latinx population. The attack resulted in 22 deaths and harmed dozens more. On the final day of August, another domestic terrorist went on a shooting spree along the West Texas interstate spanning two cities. The assault started in Midland, Texas and ended over 20 miles away in nearby Odessa. 

When the massacre was over, 7 people were dead and 25 were wounded.

Leilah Hernandez was one of those 7 who died in the Odessa/Midland shooting. 

Twitter / @BeccaFromTX

The 15-year-old had recently celebrated her Quinceañera and was the youngest victim to lose her life because of this assault. Hernandez died at the scene, wrapped in her older brother’s arms. The pair were out shopping with their parents for a truck. Her brother, Nathan, remains in Intensive Care as he receives treatment for his injuries. Understandably, Leilah’s family is reeling from her tragic loss.   

To help cover Hernandez’s funeral cost and medical bills for the family, her father set up a Go Fund Me campaign. The fundraiser reads, “Please help out our family as we had a tragedy today” and features a portrait from Hernandez’s Quinceañera.

Though the campaign has only been open for 3 days, it has raised over $24,000 for the grieving family. 

Twitter / @Nathan_H001

The campaign has been shared over 6,000 times and has nearly 500 contributors. Though the fundraiser has earned over double its goal, it is still accepting donations to help Hernandez’s family during this horrific time.

Besides monetary donations, the Go Fund Me page has been swarmed with condolences from those impacted by the news of Hernandez’s untimely death.

  Go Fund Me

Many donors expressed their frustration with our government’s failure to enact gun reform legislation. Many feel that the only way to avoid further deaths by assault rifles is to make the weapons more difficult to obtain. If our representatives act in our nation’s best interest and regulate these weapons, deaths like Leilah’s could be avoided 

Nathan’s bravery was acknowledged in the condolences and comments left on the fundraiser. 

Go Fund Me

Nathan’s injury resulted because he was attempting to shield his sister. He suffered a gunshot to his arm while holding Leilah. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to save his sister from the bullet that took her life but he held her and offered her comfort in her final moments. His bravery should be acknowledged and commended. We’re sure Leilah is very proud of her big brother.

Some saw parallels between Hernandez’s family and their own. 

Go Fund Me

This donor shared that her own daughter recently celebrated a Quince ⁠— just as Hernandez did this past May. The comparison goes to show that this could happen to any family. Mass shootings have become an epidemic and it seems that no space is safe. The thought that these tragedies could touch our lives is terrifying but it’s a reality we need to acknowledge. 

Others shared their condolences and prayers for the family. 

Go Fund Me

“We have to help,” this comment begins. Though prayers alone won’t change the world we live in, hopefully, the enormous outpouring of love, well wishes, and prayer will provide some comfort to the Hernandez family. 

We hope Leilah’s family and the families impacted by this tragedy are comforted by the support being shown by their communities. Let’s continue to help these victims in their recovery and hope something changes to avoid the next seemingly preventable tragedy. 

 
 
 
 

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Here’s Why The Attack On Atlanta’s Asian-American Community Is A Crime Against Us All

Things That Matter

Here’s Why The Attack On Atlanta’s Asian-American Community Is A Crime Against Us All

Although the United States is seeing a growing movement for racial equality and justice, thanks in part to a growing national Black Lives Matter movement, racial minorities in this country continue to face violence.

We don’t yet know the exact motives behind the recent attack on the Asian-American community in Atlanta that has left eight dead, but it comes amid a recent wave of attacks against Asian Americans that coincided with the spread of the coronavirus across the United States.

Atlanta is mourning the loss of eight locals after gunman attacks Asian-American community.

A series of shootings over nearly an hour at three Atlanta-area massage parlors left eight people dead and raised fears that the attack was yet another hate crime against Asian-Americans.

The attacks began Tuesday when five people were shot at Youngs Asian Massage Parlor about 30 miles north of Atlanta. Two people died at the scene, and three were taken to a hospital where two died. About an hour later, police responding to a call about a robbery found three women dead from apparent gunshot wounds at another spa, near Atlanta’s Buckhead area. While there, the officers learned of a call reporting shots fired at another spa across the street, Aromatherapy Spa, and found another woman apparently shot dead.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden has been briefed on the “horrific shootings” and administration officials have been in contact with the mayor’s office and the FBI.

“Our hearts are breaking for the victims and their families, and we’re certainly keeping them in our prayers,” said Gov. Brian Kemp. “We’ll let the investigation continue, but it was a tragic night in our state.”

The gunman was apprehended by authorities and taken into custody.

Robert Aaron Long, a white man, 21, was apprehended in South Georgia Tuesday night and has been charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault.

“A motive is still not clear, but a crime against any community is a crime against us all,” said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “I have remained in close contact with the White House and APD as they work with federal, state and local partners to investigate the suspect who is responsible for this senseless violence in our city.”

Long told investigators he frequented the types of businesses targeted in the Tuesday shootings, calling them a “temptation he wanted to eliminate.”

The attack highlights the growing threats that the Asian & Pacific Islander community faces in the U.S.

The killings came amid a recent wave of attacks against Asian Americans that coincided with the spread of the coronavirus across the United States.

We don’t yet know exactly what motivated the alleged killer, but we do know that hate crimes against Asian Americans have been on the rise since the start of the Covid pandemic in the US.Asian Americans have reported being targeted at least 500 times in the first two months of this year, according to the organization Stop AAPI Hate with a total of 3,795 complaints received over the past year. The majority of these — 68% — were verbal harassment, while 11% involved physical assaults.

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The Colombian City Where Body Parts Wash Up On The Shore So Often It’s Become Normal

Things That Matter

The Colombian City Where Body Parts Wash Up On The Shore So Often It’s Become Normal

Colombia has made incredible progress since the 1990’s when the country was a hotbed for international drug trafficking and guerrilla warfare. Today, modern bustling cities are home to shopping centers, museums, and hordes of international visitors.

However, despite the advancements, the country is still in a delicate peace deal with the main guerrilla oppossition – Las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) – and there are many other paramilitary groups that still operate across the country, including in the main port city of Buenavista.

The city of Buenavista is seeing an uptick in body parts washing up along its shores.

In mid-January, an arm washed up on the city’s shore. It was quickly assumed, by local media reports, that the arm belonged to one of three local fisherman who had most likely been rounded up, killed, and dismembered. The arm had a tattoo on it, connecting it to one of the missing men, Armando Valencia.

And it wasn’t the first time this has happened. According to residents, body parts washing up on beaches is a tragically familiar occurrence. “There were some reports of body parts washing up at La Bocana [a nearby tourist spot]. A head, a leg, an arm,” said María Miyela Riascos, a social leader from Buenaventura, in a statement to VICE News. “Also, they found a man and a woman dismembered in the rural area of Bajo Calima.”

Violence has been rampant in Buenaventura for decades. The city has some of the highest rates of forced displacement and homicide in the country. But seldom has it been confronted by the levels of brutality experienced in the past year.

Criminal groups have long terrorized the city but things seem to be out of control.

So many different criminal groups have terrorized the slums of Colombia’s main Pacific port that residents rarely bother to learn the name of the latest clan in control. They simply call the warring gangs los malos or the bad guys.

Three people have been killed or disappeared daily, and conflict between organized crime has displaced as many as 6,000 people. Videos on Twitter show people fleeing their homes and young men and women patrolling with assault weapons. #SOSbuenaventura has been trending.

Community leaders see darker interests behind the violence, saying the areas where most crimes occur are the same where plans have been laid for a waterfront project, an airport and seaport terminals. “I see the violence as a means of pressure to get us off this area so they can build their projects,” Armando Valencia told The Guardian.

Criminals use “chop houses” to dismember their victims.

Colombian navy special forces on patrol among stilted waterfront shacks in Buenaventura
Credit: Fernando Vergara / Getty Images

The criminals recruit children, extort businesses, force people from their homes and dismember live victims, scattering their remains in the bay or surrounding jungle. Dozens of wooden huts balanced precariously on stilts over the bay have been abandoned by terrorized citizens and taken over by the gangs for use as casas de pique, or chop houses, where they torture and murder their victims.

The chop houses are the most gruesome consequence of a deeply flawed attempt to dismantle rightwing militias, which originally emerged to combat leftwing guerrillas in collusion with state security forces and drug traffickers.

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